Improve The Quality Of Your Video Sound With Zoom’s H5
Zoom H5 recorder
Four tracks of HD audio with great versatility and a hot-shoe mount for your camera. What’s not to like?
Zoom has made a great success of its range of audio recorders. Even the lowliest of its ‘H’ range delivers highquality audio recordings with the ability to raise bit-rates far above CD quality — up to 24 bits per sample compared with CD’s 16, and sampling rates of 96kHz, compared with CD’s 44.1kHz. And hitherto the model numbering has been marvellously self-explanatory. The little H2n recorder is a two-track or stereo recorder. The H6 (reviewed in our Vol 69/No 7 issue) is a sixtrack recorder, Zoom’s highest level yet.
Now we have the new H5 — which turns out to be a four-track recorder, with two tracks (L/R) from the X/Y stereo condenser mics on the front, two more from the inputs at the rear. Zoom already has the four-track H4n, so a new H5 nomenclature was required. But what’s different?
The biggest difference is that the H5 adopts the H6’s system of swappable microphone capsules. The H4n has a not dissimilar built-in pair of X/Y stereo condenser mics on the front, but these can’t be removed. On the H5, however, you can pull them off and replace them with any of Zoom’s available capsules — these include a small shotgun mike, a mid-side design, and a capsule that replaces the mikes with two additional inputs, allowing four-track recording from all external mikes. There’s also the slightly larger X/Y capsule that comes with the H6 (see p40).
In its simplest form, though, you can set the H5 to record in stereo only and then pipe the result down a cable into your D-SLR’s external audio or mike input, to have all your audio and video pre-synced on the camera.
The H5’s line output can also be dropped by up to 30dB if you’re plugging it into a high sensitivity mike input on your camera. Along with the optional HS-1 hot-shoe mount, this is another sign that Zoom is including increasing numbers of features aimed at videographers, as well as for its traditional market of sound recordists.
While we thought the H6 just a bit large for sitting on top of your D-SLR, the H5 is a much more manageable size. Perched thus, its clear monochrome display faces up, the X/Y capsule mike faces forwards and the two XLR-TRS sockets face the back for your choice of balanced XLR or unbalanced quarterinch plugs. These are fine for microphones or line-level inputs (mixers, keyboards etc.), so you might, say, use the X-Ys for a general front balance but plug up a pair of lapel or handheld mikes for interviewer and interviewee. Or in a music context you might take a room recording from the front mikes and an off-desk mix or drum mix into the two other inputs.
Note that these are not sensitive enough for direct input of guitar or bass; you’ll need a mixer or effects unit to sufficiently raise their levels. The gain dials are also easily accessible — the mike capsules have their own controls (the X-Y pair has a single stereo volume dial for the L-R channels), while the separate little gain dials for channels 1 and 2 sit below the display.
All these dials sit under sturdy steel bumper bars, partly for protection but also for practicality — it’s far easier to smoothly adjust the volume with this arrangement.